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Dems pursue ending the war now at their own peril
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, November 18, 2006

In a Huffington Post entry yesterday, Nancy Pelosi had this to say about Iraq:
This morning, I visited our brave men and women at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center. It is a place of prayers, of honor, of respect, and reflection. And I left there more committed than ever to bringing the war to an end.

I told my colleagues yesterday that the biggest ethical issue facing our country for the past three and a half years is the war in Iraq.
Further on, she says:
The new Democratic Congress will live up to the highest ethical standard, beginning with the first 100 legislative hours when we start to change the way business is done in Washington. We are prepared to lead and ready to govern. We will honor the trust of the American people; we will not disappoint.
I seem to remember another Democrat, not to long ago, which told us he'd preside over the most ethical administration in history. I think we all know how that turned out. But ethics isn't what I want to talk about in this post. Iraq is. As you can see, Nancy Pelosi is setting expectations high pertaining to the war in Iraq and it would appear, given her comments, that nothing short of full withdrawal is acceptable (unless you translate "bringing the war to an end" differently than I do). And, as Amir Taheri points out, expectations aren't just high among many Democrats:
Arab radical circles are even more hopeful that Bush's defeat will mark the start of an historic U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East. They draw parallels between the American election and Spain's 2004 vote, days after the Madrid terrorist attacks, which led to an unexpected change of government.
Specifically, speaking of Iraq, Taheri says:
Iraq: The assumption is that America will cut and run.

Salafist groups linked to al Qaeda believe that this will mean a stampede of those Iraqis who worked with the Americans. Iraq's Shiite leaders would flee to Iran, where most had been in exile before Saddam Hussein's fall. Kurdish political and business elites will flee to the three provinces they have held since 1991. This would enable the Salafists, in alliance with the remnants of Saddam Hussein's Presidential Guards, to enter Baghdad and seize power.

Absent in that calculation is the role Iran might play: Will the mullahs sit back as Salafists and Saddamites lay the foundations of a new Arab regime that would turn against Shiite-dominated Iran?

Radical Shiites have their own vision of Iraq after the Americans have fled. They believe that, backed by Iran, they'll be able to move into the four Arab Sunni provinces that have been restive since 2004 - and crush the Saddamites and al Qaeda. This ignores the certainty that any Iranian intervention in Iraq will provoke a massive Arab reaction - with Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and even Syria (now an Iranian ally) forced to back Sunni Arabs in Iraq.

In other words, any hasty American withdrawal from Iraq could lead to either a long and bloody civil war or an even longer and bloodier regional conflict.
Now Taheri's blunt "cut and run" description may injure some tender sensibilities among those who'd prefer to call it an 'immediate phased withdrawal", but I've always been a proponent of calling a spade a spade. We can call it whatever we want, but our enemies will perceive it to be cutting and running. You should also look closely at what that means in terms of the probable result of the Pelosi plan. Stable Iraq? Stable region?

As much as it pains everyone, it is important to put aside arguments which have been lost and look at the situation there as it exists today, not as we wish it existed and not as it might existed if only we'd have done something else. Tahiri pretty starkly lays out the probabilities of certain results if we do withdraw immediately, and none of them are at all attractive or helpful to our national interests.

Which brings us back to Pelosi and the snake-oil she's selling. It is indeed an important issue, but what is being prescribed by her isn't at all what she claims it is. And Michael Goodwin calls her out on it:
Whopper Alert. First, Dems didn't run on promising to pull the troops out, so it's a big fat lie for them to claim that's why they were elected. They ran almost exclusively on criticizing Bush's handling of the war, not on alternative ideas. If you want a mandate, you have to lay out a plan before the election.
And that's precisely how I remember it as well. It was "we can do better" without ever hearing what "better" meant. It wasn't the endorsement of the Pelosi plan because there was no Pelosi plan prior to the election concerning Iraq. In fact, Democrats went out of their way to avoid specifics.

Goodwin goes on:
As New York Sen. Chuck Schumer told me: "I'd say 65% of the vote was a rejection of Bush's stay the course plan and 35% were voting to take a chance on Democrats."

Second, the public didn't vote against the war itself but against its failures.

Growing disillusionment reflects the mayhem and American casualties, which have become litmus tests for whether the war was a good idea.

A series of USA Today/Gallup polls tells the tale. At the time of the March 2003 invasion, public approval stood at 75%, with 23% saying the war was wrong. A year later, as the insurgency was growing, 57% approved and 42% disapproved. Two bloody years after the invasion, in April 2005, the approve/disapprove numbers were almost even. Before last week's election, only 40% said the war was a good idea and 55% called it a mistake.

Yet disapproving of how the war is going is different from demanding an immediate end. Most polls on that question show ambivalence, with Americans frustrated but realizing that chaos and slaughter would follow if we left before Iraq is stable.
It is that point which Democrats seem to miss. I made that point a month or so ago when talking about the 60% often cited as disapproving of the war without there being any acknowledgement that among that 60% were a significant percentage who disagreed with it's conduct, not specifically with the war itself.

So before the Democrats get themselves into a political corner out of which they can't extricate themselves, I'd suggest they back off the Pelosi plan as quickly as possible and heed Goodwin's advice:
That was the whole point behind Congress and Bush creating the Iraq Study Group. It was a recognition that our policies aren't working and that we need fresh ideas. It was why Bush sacked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - to get "fresh eyes." For Dems to preempt that process by demanding a quick withdrawal would trash the chance for a bipartisan approach and reignite the divisions elections are supposed to heal.

It is often said that the key to a stable Iraq is a political settlement there. Before we demand that of the Iraqis, we must be able to meet that same standard here.
Especially since Ms. Pelosi and the Democrats have made "bipartisan cooperation" such a high priority (not to mention being charter members of the 'reality based' community).
 
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As much as it pains everyone, it is important to put aside arguments which have been lost and look at the situation there as it exists today, not as we wish it existed and not as it might existed if only we’d have done something else. Tahiri pretty starkly lays out the probabilities of certain results if we do withdraw immediately, and none of them are at all attractive or helpful to our national interests.
Would you for once, just once, please explain how staying in Iraq would make things better. What exactly is the plan to achieve stability? Unless you can offer a detailed, and I do mean detalied plan, to do this, all you are essentially saying is that we need to stay in Iraq simply to maintain apperarences.

How do you disarm the militias? First explain that. Because until you disarm the militias, nothing will get better. And until you can explain how we disarm the militias, you have no business telling others that withdrawing would be a mistake.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Would you for once, just once, please explain how staying in Iraq would make things better.
Would you for once, just once, read the post before you comment?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The American people, in general, are sick of the situation in Iraq. We need to be out by 2008, otherwise it will dominate that election as well. It doesn’t matter what people think — if others think we’re ’cutting and running’ or label it in various ways, that’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is doing what is in the best interest of the US. That is clear: get our troops out of Iraq as soon as feasible, no longer than two years, and working diplomatically for a regional stability plan. That means talking and engaging states we tried to intimidate — intimidation doesn’t work since they no longer fear us. And the more we try and fail, the more our enemies delight — far more than if we left and they had a moment of claiming victory.

Imperial dreams turn into nightmares. Perhaps we need to recognize that we don’t have the right or the authority to try to dictate to others how they should behave, or punish them if they violate the rules. This can be justified through international law, but if we want to go that route, we need to follow international law ourselves, and work to build it. David Calleo once said "Americans are lousy imperialists." By that he meant that while our policy makers may want to have imperial policies, the American people will not pay the price it takes, in large part because such policies contradict our core values. Iraq is not ours to shape. We called ourselves liberators because to claim we were a conquering army would be to make us blatantly an aggressor — a rogue state of sorts.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Unless you can offer a detailed, and I do mean detalied plan, to do this....
I think it’s hysterical that MK is trying to hold McQ to a standard even the Dems he supports wouldn’t be able to meet.
It doesn’t matter what people think — if others think we’re ’cutting and running’ or label it in various ways, that’s irrelevant.
SO lets see....here you say that it doesn’t matter what others think, but in several of your other long winded posts, you make prominent mention of what Europe thinks of us, what Iraqis think, etc. Which is it?

Also....I think it very much matters what others think in some aspects. Specifically our enemies. If you believe otherwise you’re naive.
Imperial dreams turn into nightmares
Non sequitor as this isn’t an imperial project. That you can’t understand this undermines everything else you try to say.
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
Would you for once, just once, read the post before you comment?
I read the post. Twice. Read the cited sources too. There is nothing in the post that even remotely attempts to address the problems in Iraq. At best, the post refers to the ISG’s purpose: to come up with solutions. But saying your response is that the other guy should come up with solutions, or the government should, is not a response. It is simply postponemnt of the question. Nothing more.

Waiting for some "study group" to come up with solutions is no answer. It is simply procrastinating and stalling.

What your post amounts to here is burden shifting. The implicit premise of this post is that the burdern on those who think we should leave Iraq as soon as possible, while minimizing the possible harm to US troops, to prove chaos would not ensue if we left. And therfore to force those who favor withdrawal to establish there is no reason to stay.

But that is nonsense. When it comes to whether US troops should withdraw from the occupation of a foreign country, and when things are going horribly, as they are in Iraq, the burden is on those who want to stay and get killed to explain how, exactly, we are going to improve the situation, and how long it is really going to take. That is the American way. A realistic plan for victory. As Patton might say, Americans love a winner.

Such a burden can be carried only with details - like 50 pages worth. Reams and reams of plans. Tell us. It is your burden. It really is your burden.

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Such a burden can be carried only with details - like 50 pages worth. Reams and reams of plans. Tell us. It is your burden. It really is your burden.
Nope. It’s the Dems burden now. Have fun!
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
I read the post. Twice.
Wow. And you still asked the question?

That says more about you than me, MK.

Amazing.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I read the post. Twice.
Wow. And you still asked the question?

That says more about you than me, MK.

Amazing.
Typical of McQ: He doesn’t respond to the substance of positions far different from his own, but hurls ad hominems.

That says a lot about McQ.

But on the issue of Iraq. I think it’s obvious the policy is an utter failure, and the question now is what to do to end it in the best way possible. As much as I oppose the militarist mindset that drives much of the thinking of those who support the war, there is a strong pragmatic argument for developing a larger strategy than just getting out as soon as possible.

Ethics alone: Leave. This war was wrong; like in Vietnam, we f***ed up a country and perhaps a region, for no real purpose.

Politics as the art of the possible: There is no real alternative to a kind of Iraqi ’peace with honor.’ So I could support a bipartisan plan of disengagement that gets us out by 2008 with a diplomatic initiative in the region. This war has been disastrous for the United States in numerous ways.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Imperial dreams turn into nightmares. Perhaps we need to recognize that we don’t have the right or the authority to try to dictate to others how they should behave, or punish them if they violate the rules. This can be justified through international law, but if we want to go that route, we need to follow international law ourselves, and work to build it. David Calleo once said "Americans are lousy imperialists."
Of course Americans make lousy imperialists: America is capitalist, and capitalists don’t believe in imperialism, much less dream about it. The term and the concept of "imperialism" was created by Vladmir Lenin and is predicated upon the notion that taking resources and assets by military force is a profitable activity.

No capitalists believe this. Instead capitalists believe that it’s far cheaper and easier simply to purchase resources and assets. As this reality of economics became apparent during the end of the 19th century, The European powers began a hundred year process of shedding their colonies. Today the only governments left that believe they will profit from expansionary aggression (Lenin’s "imperialism") are those ruled by unelected tyrants and juntas. Leftists project this imaginary imperialism onto the right because they aren’t capitalists. Their economic ideas are still predicated on mercantilistic notions that wealth was merely something to be had, instead of the capitalistic notion that wealth is something that’s created.


Many on the left believe that Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations is merely a capitalist manifesto or a run-of-the-mill declarative treatise on economics, but they’re wrong. An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations was written in 1776 as an anti-colonialism tract. In it Smith describes how economies work in order to demonstrate how colonialism made a handful of merchants rich, but beggared England as a whole. He did not do this for it’s own sake, but to demonstrate that war to retain colonial power in the Americas was not in England’s economic interests.


yours/
peter.
 
Written By: peter jackson
URL: www.liberalcapitalist.com
Many on the left believe that Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations is merely a capitalist manifesto or a run-of-the-mill declarative treatise on economics, but they’re wrong. An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations was written in 1776 as an anti-colonialism tract. In it Smith describes how economies work in order to demonstrate how colonialism made a handful of merchants rich, but beggared England as a whole. He did not do this for it’s own sake, but to demonstrate that war to retain colonial power in the Americas was not in England’s economic interests.
Yes, the left misunderstands Smith, though Smith is also often misunderstood on the "right" as being just a radical free marketeer. A read of his entire work shows a stunning critique of the capitalists of his day. Karl Marx would in fact use Smith’s theory and essentially was trying to say "this is what needs to happen in order for Smith’s theory to work." Misunderstood (and with Marx, some would say abused) by many, Smith remains a true genius. His major works are something every educated person should at some point read.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
though Smith is also often misunderstood on the "right" as being just a radical free marketeer.
If Smith had been in a position to read Bastiat and von Mises, I think you would not be in a position to write that without lying.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
You say you remember a Democrat who said he would reside over the most ethical administration in history. If you mean Clinton your right and he did. At least in the history of my 37 years of life there has not been a more ethical administration and the republican ones have more resembled organized crime than democratic government.

Keep trying, and stop confusing wit with truth.
 
Written By: Paul XQ
URL: http://
If Smith had been in a position to read Bastiat and von Mises, I think you would not be in a position to write that without lying.
IOW, I’m right about Smith, but you belief that IF he had read other works from later on he would have had the theory you want him to have.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I agree that being unhappy with the war is different from wanting an immediate withdrawal. Polls back it up every time — a huge majority recognizes the war is a disaster, and yet less than a majority wants to end it.

It is strange.

However, I don’t agree with the claim that IF there was a withdrawal, that chaos would necessarily follow. First, this is always stated in a way to suggest chaos and violence would be a new condition, resulting from the withdrawal. But that’s the fact of life in Iraq today.

Second, people don’t know a withdrawal would create chaos. And when a majority of Baghdad residents do want an immediate withdrawal, perhaps we should listen. It’s their country.
 
Written By: Nicolai Brown
URL: http://www.nicolaibrown.com
However, I don’t agree with the claim that IF there was a withdrawal, that chaos would necessarily follow. First, this is always stated in a way to suggest chaos and violence would be a new condition, resulting from the withdrawal. But that’s the fact of life in Iraq today.
Everything you read from both the Sunnis and Shia acknowledge that the presence of US troops keeps the lid on their muslim on muslim violence (even while provoking violence against the US troops).

The point constantly made is without a trained up Iraqi force loyal to the Iraqi government, Shia militias, if unleashed, would make short work of the Sunnis (and I mean short work in a relative way) in a full out religious civil war.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
However, I don’t agree with the claim that IF there was a withdrawal, that chaos would necessarily follow. First, this is always stated in a way to suggest chaos and violence would be a new condition, resulting from the withdrawal. But that’s the fact of life in Iraq today.

Second, people don’t know a withdrawal would create chaos. And when a majority of Baghdad residents do want an immediate withdrawal, perhaps we should listen. It’s their country.
There is strong evidence to suggest a withdraw would not create more chaos. Already we see a civil war, last week there were over 500 Iraqis killed. Our forces do not provide stability or hold back the militias; that job would require a far greater presence. Now each side wants to use the US to try to get a better deal for their side. Contrary to what McQ says, there are numerous voices in Iraq who claim America’s presence makes things worse. Perhaps a quick exit would be bad, but clearly we’re not doing much good over there, and ultimately it is their country.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Would you for once, just once, please explain how staying in Iraq would make things better. What exactly is the plan to achieve stability? Unless you can offer a detailed, and I do mean detalied plan, to do this, all you are essentially saying is that we need to stay in Iraq simply to maintain apperarences.

How do you disarm the militias? First explain that. Because until you disarm the militias, nothing will get better. And until you can explain how we disarm the militias, you have no business telling others that withdrawing would be a mistake."

Put a million men with boots on the ground, including starting a draft if you have to, control Iraq from one end to the other, seal the borders with Iran and Syria to cut off supplies of arms and fighters to the Islamists. Then once you have the country controlled, disarm all the militias, tear down all institutions of oppression and rebuild them as institutions to protect individual liberty, and build up the country. THEN we can bring the troops home with a clear, unquestioned victory over Islam. Had we gone in with overwhelming force in the first place, we could have done this three years ago, and perhaps have the troops coming home today with the clear victory (or have them already home victorious). But first we need the OVERWHELMING force there.
 
Written By: Robert
URL: http://
Put a million men with boots on the ground, including starting a draft if you have to, control Iraq from one end to the other, seal the borders with Iran and Syria to cut off supplies of arms and fighters to the Islamists. Then once you have the country controlled, disarm all the militias, tear down all institutions of oppression and rebuild them as institutions to protect individual liberty, and build up the country. THEN we can bring the troops home with a clear, unquestioned victory over Islam. Had we gone in with overwhelming force in the first place, we could have done this three years ago, and perhaps have the troops coming home today with the clear victory (or have them already home victorious). But first we need the OVERWHELMING force there.
Victory over Islam?! Even if we did all that and it worked, Iraq would still be an Islamic state. Moreover, the institutions, no matter what we put in place, would end up being what the Iraqis determine they become. They could very easily choose a close partnership with Iran once we left.

But starting a draft, sending a million people over there...you’d have rebellion at home, and even conservative Republicans, fearful of not being re-elected, would undercut efforts to do that.

Moreover, it’s not clear even a million people could disarm all the militias and achieve the results you want. It could also create a huge backlash against the US and American interests throughout the region.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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